Thinking of implementing a referral program strategy to grow sales? Want to know what’s the best referral program software for your business?

Did you know that the lifetime value (LTV) of a referred customer is 16% higher than a non-referred customer?

In this article, you’ll discover the meaning of a referral program and how it is different from an affiliate program, get to know the factors you should look for before investing in a referral program, and get a list of top referral program software to use for your business.

What is a Referral Program?

A referral program, often referred to as modern word-of-mouth marketing, is a marketing magic that encourages customers to advocate on behalf of your brand.

what is referral program

Unlike traditional referral programs, which include online reviews or customer survey forms, modern referral programs allow customers to share their brand experience with their network via easy-to-use tools such as referral links or codes and get rewarded for it.

By referral programs, you’re not just asking your existing customers to bring in casual leads. That’s what your marketing team can do all day long.

Here, you allow customers to think about people who can benefit from your product or services and bring in genuine leads.

You might wonder, why will a stranger engage with your brand?

Because they trust the person who’s referring them to a product or service, and they’re likely to act upon their recommendation, isn’t it?

Even though they aren’t your customer yet, being referred by someone they know makes them trust your brand and intuitively create a positive customer experience.

But what makes referral programs the most trusted form of marketing?

Well, data tells tales.

According to Finance Online, customers are 18% more loyal, have a 16% higher lifetime value rate, and spend 13% more than their non-referred counterparts.

Moreover, 9 out of 10 customers trust peer recommendations. They are more likely to engage with your brand when their peers recommend them.

Moreover, Referral programs surged by a whopping 425% during the COVID-19 outbreak as companies rushed to move online and acquire their target markets.

Global brands like Dropbox, Slack, Uber, and many more, have significantly used referral marketing to bring in customers.

If you’re willing to leverage referral programs, you should read the next section to understand better the features that must be included in your referral programs.

Features An Ideal Referral Program Should Have

#1. User-Friendly Experience

Your program’s experience will influence the willingness of users to send it to others.

And thus, it’s way too important to provide a seamless customer experience.

You might unknowingly put hurdles in the program – complex navigation, poor dashboard, or even an extra step. This could let your customers down.

So make sure your referral program is smooth enough to let users send it to others willingly.

#2. Attractive Incentives

Brand loyalty isn’t everything.

If your customers feel your referral incentives are not worth their recommendations, they aren’t going to share them.

Motivate all parties involved to participate in the program. The better the incentives, the happier your customers are to participate.

#3. Customizations

Another valuable feature of any referral program is its flexibility to adapt according to your brand requirements.

Your referral program should be customizable enough to fit your company’s branding and values.

By customizations, we mean multiple templates, widgets, add-ons, or third-party integrations. These have the potential to shape your referral program.

#4. Persuasive Copywriting

Although, your customers trust your brand, and their peers trust your customers. This cycle isn’t enough to let a stranger click your referral link.

Your referral program should be built on persuasive writing and actionable texts.

Starting from your landing pages to your referral policy and rules, your copy must focus on providing stimuli to motivate a person to act.

#5. Customer Insights

Without analyzing insights from your campaigns, your results would be all around.

Your referral program, at the bare minimum, should be able to track:

  • Participation rate
  • Share rate
  • Impressions and Reach
  • Conversion Rate

You must be able to find out what obstacles users are facing or what’s turning them off from spreading the word about your brand.

Referral Programs vs. Affiliate Programs – How are They Different?

Referral and affiliate programs are very similar strategies. They share a lot in common – incentives, bonuses, power of word-of-mouth marketing, and a similar goal.

However, both programs target different audiences with different types of rewards. Let’s understand what makes both programs unique in their own way.

Firstly, an affiliate doesn’t need to be a customer of your brand, unlike referral programs where the participant must be a customer or client.

In most cases, an affiliate is an individual with a large audience base that is adequate to the target audience profile of the company.

Eventually, a person can become an affiliate after being a loyal customer. However, this is not the case with referral programs – the participant must be a customer.

Secondly, individuals who join affiliate programs do this solely to earn income and not with an intent to enjoy extra benefits.

That’s why they aren’t necessarily the company’s customers. And this is more or less why affiliate marketing usually attracts marketing professionals, bloggers, influencers, and not customers looking to save money or get bonuses by referral acts.

And lastly, the major difference between affiliate programs and referral programs – Relationships.

Referral programs are a result of close relationships between parties—for example, friends, families, subordinates, etc.

On the contrary, affiliate programs require no existing relationship between the affiliate and the referred person.

For example, a person purchases a product via an affiliate link embedded in a blog post. The person doesn’t have any relationship with the affiliate. They just bought the product because they trusted the affiliate’s recommendation.

Summarizing the differences mentioned above, here’s a quick breakdown of the differences between a referral program and an affiliate program.

Referral ProgramsAffiliate Programs
IncentivesNon-cash (gift cards, coupons, discounts) and cash rewardsCash rewards (predefined percentage of sales)
Rewards RecurrenceOne-offPayouts (Weekly/Monthly)
PartnersFirst-party partners (users, customers)Third-party partners (affiliate marketers, bloggers)
Target AudienceFriends, Family, ColleaguesRandom target audience
Morale Emotion-basedIncome-based

Now that you have a clear understanding of a referral program, let’s discuss some software that helps you build a successful referral strategy.

Here are some popular referral program software to grow your business.

GrowSurf

GrowSurf is a referral program software that leverages word-of-mouth marketing for B2C, Fintech, and SaaS companies.

growsurf

Its marketing automation SaaS helps tech startups acquire new customers at minimal costs through attractive referral programs.

Features

  • Automatic Link Generator: Allow customers to start sharing with a user-specific link without even forcing them to sign up
  • Instant Sharing: Easily embed snippets of code into your website, app, and emails to inspire instant sharing
  • Easy-to-Set Up: Build your referral program from scratch hassle-free with a single-day setup process
  • Automated Rewards: Setup an automated rewarding system within a few clicks by using pre-integrated Zapier and webhooks

GrowSurf’s customers enjoy 300-1000% ROI, with at least 30% monthly growth in referral customers. You can give it a try as it offers a 14-day no-risk trial.

ReferralCandy

ReferralCandy is a mobile-based application company based out of Singapore. It specializes in building customer referral programs for other eCommerce businesses.

referralcandy

Its referral program is highly customizable and runs itself, making it super easy for eCommerce store owners to build and manage their customer referral programs.

Features

  • Easy-to-Use: Present your customers with a smooth, user-friendly experience and allows them to start referring within 10 mins of joining your referral program
  • Highly Customizable: Easily customize every point of contact ranging from rewards to emails, as per your brand identity and values
  • Seamless Integrations: Quickly integrate your eCommerce store and other marketing tools with ReferralCandy in one-go
  • Real-Time Tracking: Track your referral revenue and traffic in real-time; Also, get alerted to what people are talking about your brand on social media

Over 3,000+ eCommerce stores trust ReferralCandy’s services. Moreover, it’s a Shopify Plus certified app partner with over 1,700 positive store owners reviews.

ReferralRock

ReferralRock is the best-in-class referral program software designed for businesses of all sizes. It allows you to easily build, track and optimize word-of-mouth marketing for your business.

referralrock

ReferralRock’s intuitive design allows you to keep members engaged and attracted with creative rewards and timely notifications.

Features

  • Real-Time Results: Smart analytics and referral tracking software allow you to analyze real-time customer insights and make data-driven decisions
  • Automation and Integration: Seamlessly automate your routine tasks and integrate multiple third-party marketing tools to see results faster
  • Personalization: Customizable ready-made templates and ReferralRock’s landing page builder allows you to create a personalized user experience
  • Expert Customer Support: Dedicated success manager at every step to boost your customer acquisition process

ReferralRock offers you not just a widget but a full dedicated portal to create and manage a robust referral marketing framework. It has helped over 1000+ businesses generate more brand awareness and referrals without interrupting their existing workflow.

Friendbuy

Founded in 2010, Friendbuy is a technology-first company that helps eCommerce businesses nurture growth with powerful referral programs.

friendbuy

It’s a SaaS platform powering referral programs for global fortune 100s such as Walmart, Disney, Nestle, etc.

Features

  • Referral Dashboards: Friendbuy’s referral dashboard allow customers to view their earnings and invites and even permits them to send friendly reminders with a click
  • Fraud Detection: Friendbuy’s powerful fraud detection program empowers you to confidently make compelling referral offers and prevent self-referrals
  • Analytics and Reporting: Optimize each step in your referral funnel with the help of comprehensive real-time analytics
  • A/B Testing: Easily launch experiments to test offers, landing pages, email subject lines, or any other step to figure out what’s working best for you

With Friendbuy, you can expect a 15% growth in the referral traffic, with the cost of acquiring new customers being as low as $1. Moreover, top companies have seen a 25x ROI while using Friendbuy’s referral program software.

Talon.one

Talon is an all-in-one API-based promotion engine designed for enterprises. It lets enterprises create, manage, and carry out marketing campaigns under one scalable system.

talon one

Its referral program software enables enterprises to build a flexible, user-friendly referral program from scratch.

Features

  • Personalized Referrals: Take custom attributes from customer profiles and offer a unique referral solution (Multi-criteria referral, tier-based referral, referrals)
  • Customizable Incentives: Set custom incentives based on any success criteria you want; reduce incentive value over time or reward incentives only after some time
  • Excellent Customer Support: Enjoy best-in-class consultation from user onboarding and training to campaigns creation and optimization
  • Advanced Integration: Easily integrate third-party marketing tools with Talon’s referral program software for seamless workflow

If you’re searching for referral program software for your small/medium/large enterprise, Talon is the world’s most flexible and robust promotional engine. It’s your go-to software!

Birdeye

Founded in 2012, Birdeye is a leading reviews software and messaging platform for businesses across the globe.

birdeye

It enables businesses to acquire customers on autopilot with custom-built referral and loyalty programs.

Features

  • Cross-Platform Functionality: Allows customers to refer your business on social media, emails, or other messaging apps with a user-specific referral link
  • Set-Up Autopilot: Completely automate your referral program from sending emails to distributing rewards and allow it to run by itself while you enjoy your day
  • Notification Alerts: Get alerted by notifications in Birdseye’s inbox whenever you get a new referral and engage with them quickly
  • Comprehensive Reporting: Easily track, monitor, and analyze all referrals and activities (shares, clicks, leads) under one dashboard

Over 60,000 businesses use Birdeye referral program software to attract and engage new leads. 

Invite Referrals

Invite Referrals is an easy-to-setup cloud-based referral program software. It’s currently the best referral software supporting multiple platforms – mobile app, website, and social media.

invite referrals

Invite Referrals is a feature-rich referral software enabling you to scale your referral marketing and generate quality leads for your business.

Features

  • In-Depth Reporting: Get detailed customer insights and keep track at every step of the program; get comprehensive campaign reports on a daily or weekly basis
  • Highly Customizable: The WYSIWYG editor allows you to customize your referral campaigns from top-to-bottom without requiring any designer or coder
  • Fraud Prevention and Security: In-built fraud prevention mechanism protects your program from any suspicious activities so that you remain focused on nurturing your referrals
  • One-Time Integration: Has an embedded asynchronous smart code to get the software up and running within minutes without hampering your website speed.

Invite Referrals automatically adapts itself according to the device or platform you deploy it on to provide a user-friendly experience wherever it’s been used.

Invite Box

Invite Box is a social referral program with the ‘Refer a Friend’ widget, allowing customers to share your referral program with friends or family easily.

invitebox

It offers multiple referral types – goal-based rewards, instant rewards, giveaways, and referral contests. These referral types enrich your word-of-mouth marketing and spread the word quickly and effectively.

Features

  • Keep track of your customer’s online activities and instantly reward them when they share your referral link via social channels
  • Get better ROI by rewarding high-value bonuses to customers who bring in a set number of referrals
  • Create buzz around your online business by hosting random giveaways and sweepstakes across multiple platforms
  • Create custom referral contests intended for high-value promotions to bring in high-ticket referrals and widespread brand awareness

The best part is that setting up the Invite Box is a two-step process:

  • Set your terms and conditions for your referral program
  • Embed the code into your webpage(s)

That’s it!

Moreover, it comes with a no-risk trial period. So you can always try it before you trust it and let the results speak for themselves.

Genius Referrals

You already have spent ample money on acquiring customers. But was it just for a single purchase?

It’s time to make your customers advocate for your brand.

Genius Referrals is a powerful referral program software that works as hard as your customers. 

genius referral

It automates your entire referral program, creates brand advocates, and generates better ROI for your business at the lowest cost.

Features

  • All-In-One Dashboard: Allow advocates to track, analyze and take complete control of their referral program with an easy-to-understand dashboard
  • Real-Time Notifications: Stay connected with your advocates by sending push-notifications regarding any new referrals or bonuses
  • Easy Sharing: Generate user-specific referral links and enable instant sharing across multiple platforms with a click
  • Reliable Customer Success: Enjoy 24*7 customer support throughout the year to offer a seamless referral program experience

Still not sure about Genius Referrals? Try a 30-days free trial of the software and test it yourself.

Referral Factory

Referral Factory offers the most affordable referral program software in the industry. 

referral factory

It’s best suited for small to medium-sized enterprises with a tight budget yet has growth potential.

Features

  • Pre-Built Templates: Choose from a selection of 1000+ pre-built templates built by referral marketing experts to get started quickly
  • No-Code Customizations: Use its powerful drag-and-drop builder to customize the look and feel of your campaigns, from changing page layouts to colors and branding without any coding
  • Tracking and Analytics: Monitor your campaign results from your dashboard, including details of registered users and ‘who referred whom’
  • Scalability: Referral Factory’s powerful APIs easily integrate your referral program with existing business processes to help your campaign scale as your business grows

With ReferralFactory, you can build referral programs in 21 different languages. In fact, over 1000+ business owners run powerful referral programs with Referral Factory – without writing a single line of code.

Vyper

Ever dreamt of your business campaign going viral? Well, it’s a dream come true moment for you.

Vyper is a powerful marketing tool specializing in creating viral social media giveaways and promotions.

vyper

Vyper helps you create campaigns that bring in new referrals and revenue for your business via viral sharing and social engagements.

Features

  • The easy-to-understand dashboard lets users share referral links easily, showcase rewards earned, and pursue them to share the campaign on social media for extra rewards.
  • Create an attractive landing page with customizable texts, call-to-action-buttons, and images
  • Design personalized referral sign-up forms and easily embed them on your webpage(s)
  • Add an intercom style widget on your website to continuously remind your users to sign up; moreover, run your entire referral campaign through a single widget.

The best part is that you can try out Vyper for free. You only pay when you start a marketing campaign.

Wrapping Up

Are you still confused about which referral program software is best for your business?

Here’s a quick glimpse of all the software mentioned above and their “Best For” uses.

SoftwareBest For
Grow Surf, TalonB2C, Fintech, Tech startups
ReferralCandy, FriendbuyE-commerce stores
Referral Rock, Birdeye, Invite ReferralsAll types of enterprises
Invite Box, Genius Referrals, Referral FactorySmall and Medium enterprises

Pick a referral program software that suits your business needs and grow your business with the power of word-of-mouth marketing.